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Orthodontic Appliances

Dental Braces

A word commonly used to describe a fixed orthodontic appliance, usually comprised of brackets, bands and wires.  The diagram below illustrates and names each part of a typical set of braces.

Orthodontic Headgear

Headgear is a type of orthodontic appliance attached to either braces or a palatal expander that aids in correcting severe bite problems. The most common treatment headgear is used for correcting overbite problems (overjet). The headgear attaches to the braces via metal hooks or a facebow. Straps or a head-cap anchor the headgear to the back of the head or neck. In some situations both are used. Elastic bands apply pressure to the bow or hooks. Its purpose is to slow-down or stop the upper jaw from growing, hence preventing or correcting an overjet.

Palatal Expanders

The Palatal Expander is an orthopedic appliance designed to widen your upper jaw by gently separating the bones of the palate. It works best in teenagers younger than 15 years old because below this age, the bones of the upper jaw are still pliable. The palatal expander consists of a screw that is attached to the teeth by metal bands that go around your teeth. The expander is activated by turning the screw with a key. As the upper jaw is widened, a space will develop between the front teeth. This space is closed with braces. Once expansion is completed, the expander will remain in the mouth for approximately six months to stabilize the upper palate before being removed.

It takes a few days to get used to the expander. Initially there will be some lisping but within a week your speech will be back to normal. Until you get used to eating with your expansion appliance, eat plenty of soft foods.  Pain is rarely experienced, but you may feel the initial pressure on your teeth, in the middle of your palate, and your cheeks. Sometimes patients may experience a slight headache. You can take over the counter pain medication to alleviate the discomfort. As with any orthodontic appliance, remember to stay away from hard sticky foods that can break and pull apart your appliance. Be sure to brush all parts of your expansion appliance as well as your teeth.

Spacers for Braces

Spacers are little plastic rings that fit between your back teeth and are inserted before placement of your braces to provide some space between your back teeth.

Spacers usually stay between your teeth for one to two weeks, and they are taken out before your braces are put on. They may cause some soreness, but this goes away in a few days.

If a spacer comes out a day or two after its placement, try to replace it yourself.

If you just can’t put it back, call our office for a replacement. If a spacer comes out a day or two before your regularly scheduled orthodontic visit, it is not necessary to call our office for a replacement. In this situation, a loose spacer means that enough space was created between your back teeth.

Please avoid sticky or chewy foods. Also do not floss those teeth that have spacer between them.

Sports Mouthguard

When participating in sporting events a mouth guard may be the only thing between you and costly dental work, especially for people who wear dental braces. You can continue to participate in any sport you choose. When playing sports where there is a possibility of getting hit in the mouth, a specially designed mouth guard will need to be worn.  Please be sure to let Dr. Cartwright or an assistant know if you need a special mouth guard.  We will be happy to give you one.  Do not use a boil and bite mouth guard, it will break your braces.

Bethel Park Office

Dr. Gary Cartwright, DMD
4880 Library Road
Bethel Park, PA 15102
(412) 833-6188

McMurray Office

Dr. Gary Cartwright, DMD
2000 Waterdam Plaza Drive, Suite 160
McMurray, PA 15317
(724) 942-5130

Complimentary Exam

Dr. Cartwright offers a complimentary consultation for children under 18 that consists of a panoramic x-ray, photographs, a thorough orthodontic examination and a discussion of potential treatment options.

4880 Library Road, Bethel Park, PA 15102 USA
Gary Cartwright, DMD Bethel Park, PA Orthodontist. (412) 833-6188
2000 Waterdam Plaza Drive, Suite 160, McMurray, PA 15317 USA
Gary Cartwright, DMD McMurray, PA Orthodontist (724) 942-5130